NHS England will fund a major extension to the national HIV prevention programme led by Public Health England with the aim of supporting those most at risk and reducing the incidence of HIV infection.

The initiative is joint between NHS England and Public Health England, and follows the recent Court of Appeal ruling that NHS England, alongside local authorities, has the power, although not the obligation, to fund the provision of anti-retroviral drugs for the prevention of HIV, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

A clinical trial phase will include at least 10,000 participants over the next three years. NHS England will fully fund the cost of the clinical trial phase and will work in partnership with local authorities, the Local Government Association and Public Health England to implement the findings as part of a wider national roll-out.

"GMFA welcomes the news that PrEP will become available to those who are most at risk and congratulate the NHS for making the correct decision," says GMFA's interim CEO Ian Howley. "However, we feel this announcement does not go as far as it should. Although we understand the call for a trial basis, we have already gone through a major trial by the PROUD study, which showed that not only does PrEP work but could help stop new HIV infections.

"Although we are going in the right direction, we are now calling on the NHS and PHE to disclose how they will make sure that those who are at most risk are invited on this trial and this simply doesn't become a postcode lottery."

Ian continues: "Going forward, we need to make sure PrEP becomes free to anyone who feels they are at risk. Too many gay and bisexual men are becoming HIV-positive and we now have a tool that can prevent new infections.

"HIV prevention is not a one size fits all campaign and PrEP is just one tool that can have a major impact on stopping HIV once and for all. However, we need to still strongly communicate that using condoms, along with testing for HIV and STIs is just as important as using PrEP."